Grown Ups (PG-13)
En español | Despite its title, the latest Adam Sandler film proves that boys never really grow up. Though the plot of this unsophisticated comedy doesn’t go much deeper than that, the movie is good for several laughs, and the cast is an embarrassment of riches. Add a lake house during a Fourth of July weekend, throw in a raucous trip to a water park, and a ticket to Grown Ups brings a nice bit of summer fun.
Five friends from elementary school—former members of a winning basketball team—gather in midlife for the funeral of their beloved coach. Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade (the funniest of the group), Kevin James and Rob Schneider endlessly exchange one-liners, flatulence jokes, pratfalls and body blows. The Big Chill this is not: In one scene, Sandler slaps Schneider repeatedly across the face with a freeze-dried banana; in another, Rock twice lands face-first in a pile of dog-doo. All the boys (except for Spade, whose character is happily single) are joined at the lake house by their wives—played by Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and Joyce Van Patten—along with a gaggle of kids. Hayek plays a successful fashion designer, and her children with Sandler, a Hollywood agent, order Voss water at the local diner and communicate with their nanny via text messages. James has recently been laid off from his job selling yard furniture, and his wife (Bello) is still breast-feeding their four-year-old son. Rudolph, several months pregnant, is the powerhouse in her family, with Rock playing the role of her Mr. Mom. Finally, Van Patten and a much-younger Schneider make an openly amorous (read lap dances and French kisses) couple.
Director Dennis Dugan basically strings together scene after scene of this motley crew playing off one another. At times, their attempts at humor-at-all-costs fall flat. And halfway through the movie, I actually found myself hoping there was no deeper story line brewing, as it would have taken much too long to develop it. Three-quarters of the way into Grown Ups, Van Patten does offer up a poignant observation on friendship and love, which, though nicely delivered, seems not to belong in this roughshod romp. Still, her commentary does counterbalance the madness with some meaning.
In truth, one of the messages offered up by Grown Ups, which was co-written by Sandler, is that fun is a basic element of life. And as Sandler’s on-screen kids learn, skipping rocks can delight as much, if not more, than a Playstation 3 or a 104-inch flat screen TV. So too, Grown Ups delivers on the most basic level, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.